One of them, who I call "Bro", was so into analysing Japanese idol culture and he talked about it enthusiastically. His detailed analysis was very interesting and probably accurate.
Still, maybe because his story made so much sense, I felt a bit strange, or more likely uncomfortable. I feel that sometimes when I'm here in my own country. But I rarely find people to talk about it with.
The bottom line is that this country is susceptible to those business models that exploit people. And it affects the education system (or, the education system allows those business models? maybe both) . That makes me so sad :(
Picking up? Creeping out?
I thought "Agh, not again" but I couldn't just tell him "go away" so instead of that, I said "Can I help you? (Or, go away)"
The next thing those guys say is usually "I just wanted to talk to you","I'd like to get to know each other", "I thought you were beautiful and this was the last chance to talk to you"
These may sound nice, but I gotta say, they are not picking up a girl. I mean, they mean to be, but there're obvious differences between a guy who's picking up a girl and a guy who's creeping out a girl.
Guys who pick up a girl do not ...
- talk to her before making eye-contact (of course not from behind)
- talk to her on the street and follow her walking
- ask if she's married until they're sure she's interested
- avoid eye contact
- look creepy
Once he states his business, I can tell him to leave because I don't meet his demand and he's creepy and annoying, also it doesn't matter if I'm married or not. And I did it that time, too.
Bro's story - Japanese idol culture
Bro's point A - They have their own backstage
There’s a huge online fan network and they discuss about their idol. They spend a lot of time there, talking about who they like or, "If you could shuffle those member’s appearance and character, which combo would you like?”, “What do you think of that member’s sex scandal? Should she be expelled?” etc etc.
That sounds like a very common attitude of someone’s fan. But Bro thinks their discussion (more likely, study?) is something more than just gossip. Probably their intelligence level is better than average and they have very unique theory. Although there’s also strong generalisation there.
For example, this idol group has live concerts on a regular basis and it gathers like 30,000 people every time. They talk and talk about what they'll do at the concert beforehand.
One day a member was “graduating" from the group and it was her last concert. They knew she would sing her song about a flower. While she was singing, they put their specifically coloured flag (or light or fan or whatever) up at the right time as previously arranged so those 30,000 flags looked like a flower blooming to her on the stage. Just like the mass games of North Korea.
Is that sweet or creepy? Interesting either way.
Bro’s point B - There’s a very specific market and they adapt
Those idol groups sing songs. Even though they don’t sing very well. It’s because they have to perform something at the event and sell CDs. Yes, CDs.
The fans buy CDs. Not a CD, they buy like, hundreds copies of the same CD. Why? Because it comes with tickets. Tickets for what? To get the right to buy a better seat of the concert, or to get the right to talk to the favourite idol for 10 seconds at the autographing session (if you have 10 tickets, you can talk to her for 100 seconds!!), or some other kind of ticket combos. I forgot the exact rule or numbers but the point is, purchase of a CD is a donation here (also, ta-da!, you can listen to the music if you have a CD player) which is not very environmentally friendly. But the fans are happy with that system.
Here’s a friend of Bro’s who’s deeply into this idol group. He buys 600 copies of CD and keeps all of the autographing tickets then sells the other kind of tickets. Practically he pays for, I don’t know, less than half of those CDs. That’s the math he does and he’s happy with the result.
Is that smart or creepy?
Bro’s point C - They are good people like lambs
As Bro says, those people are very polite even on the internet chat.
And It’s not only fans of this idol group.
There’re some indie idol groups called underground idol. They perform independently usually at basement joints and don’t get a lot of media exposure. Usually several groups perform at the same place, on the same day.
Fans of each idol group come down to the arena when their group shows up. While the group is performing, fans of other groups are quietly waiting outside the arena. When the group finishes performing, fans leave the arena for the fans of the next group, quietly, and immediately.
Sometimes some group doesn’t have lots of fans to fill the arena. Sometimes they get only one fan. Which is so sad :( Then fans of other groups silently come down to there and start cheering the group even though nobody asks, even though the group is not their favourite.
That is cute, actually.
Of course they are good people, but
Although people there were impressed by Bro’s talk, I wasn’t sure about it.
I didn’t exactly know what was wrong but I tried to explain.
That I had just met a creepy middle aged guy and there’re many guys like that on the street.
About the difference between hitting on and creeping out and that it is actually the difference of whether or not they are communicating with the other human being.
That there’re too many people here who treat other people (especially women) like trading cards and even if they can’t collect one, they think it’s because of a condition (like marital status), not their lack of social skill.
“… so, I don’t know, I’m not sure about the business model that increases those weirdos… am I talking like a hysterical PTA member who blames video games for every shooting rampage case?"
“Yeah, kind of.” other friend answered.
“But this case is different… if there’s a violent kind of video game and it says PG12, it means they expect children to understand by the time they turn 12 that they can’t kill people in real life even though they can do it in the video game. For the same reason, people have to learn about communication with other human beings before they start to think of people as a product… you know what I mean?"
“You were clear and what you say is probably right but…” the other friend said, “that would be impossible in this information oriented society."
“But those fans of idols are really good people, you know that?” Bro said.
I couldn’t say anything but “Yeah, I know.” and I still felt strange.
The bottom line
The problem is, that business model is based on the fact that people here have got used to treating other people like a product. In fact, they expect their customers to stay socially immature while violent contents require them to be reasonable.
The TV show called American Idol affected many countries besides Japan. There's a different definition of "idol".
I guess the audience watches American Idol to see some overwhelming talent winning a huge success. They admire their favourite singer and his/her individual character.
But Japanese media chose the trading card system. They don't want overwhelming talent. They want the same ice-cream in bunch of different flavours that earns lots of donations.
Like Bro said, the fans are definitely good people. Only some people can't get the difference between the real world and that commercial world and those people could be that creeps who try to hunt girls like pokemon.
Adults care about the age limit for violence and sex, but they don't talk about social skills as much as those two big subjects.
Is it really impossible to learn to communication and respect? I really doubt that.
I am not a social person. I still struggle with those social problems. Everybody does.
Society's supposed to educate and support us to build a healthy human relationships instead of exploiting. Then embrace us being a little bit social awkward.